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Acker v. Environmental Resources Management, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

February 27, 2015

Megan Acker, Plaintiff,
v.
Environmental Resources Management, Inc., Defendant

Joshua R. Williams, Minneapolis, MN, on behalf of Plaintiff.

Barbara Jean D'Aquila and Margaret Rudolph, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, Minneapolis, MN, for Defendant.

Page 1061

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

SUSAN RICHARD NELSON, United States District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

This matter is before the Court on Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [Doc. No. 6] and Defendant's Motion to Strike [Doc. No. 14]. For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies both Motions.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Megan Acker asserts one cause of action against Defendant Environmental Resources Management, Inc. for reprisal in violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act, Minnesota Statutes § 363A.01 et seq. (Notice of Removal, Ex. A [Doc. No. 1-1] (Compl. ¶ ¶ 3, 42-46).) According to her Complaint, Plaintiff began working for Defendant on about August 25, 2008 and, throughout her employment, was subjected by her supervisor, Brian Whiting, to harassment and differential treatment based on sex. (Id. ¶ ¶ 4, 8-9.) Plaintiff alleges that she complained to her project manager about the sexual harassment and differential treatment on about September 24, 2009 and, shortly thereafter, discussed

Page 1062

her complaint with employees in Defendants' human resources department. (Id. ¶ ¶ 10-11.) Plaintiff asserts that, after the human resources department initiated an investigation of her complaint, Mr. Whiting accused Plaintiff for the first time of having work performance issues. (Id. ¶ ¶ 12-14.) Thereafter, Plaintiff alleges, Mr. Whiting engaged in a pattern of retaliation and, in February 2010, placed Plaintiff on a performance improvement plan (" PIP" ) even though she had exceeded her performance expectations for the preceding four months. (Id. ¶ ¶ 15-16, 18-19.) Although Plaintiff complained to the human resources manager that she believed Mr. Whiting had imposed the PIP in retaliation for her complaint of sex discrimination, the human resources manager failed to investigate. (Id. ¶ ¶ 21-22.) Mr. Whiting extended the PIP in March 2010, and Defendant ultimately terminated Plaintiff's employment in April 2010. (Id. ¶ ¶ 25, 29.)

On about February 14, 2011, Plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination based on the events described above with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (" MDHR" ). (Id. ¶ 30.) According to Plaintiff, the MDHR found probable cause that Defendant had retaliated against her in violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act (" MHRA" ). (Id. ¶ 32.) She alleges that any delay in the MDHR's probable cause determination was caused in part by the 2011 Minnesota state government shutdown and by Defendant, and that any such delay did not cause Defendant to suffer prejudice. (Id. ¶ ¶ 33-35.) In a May 22, 2014 letter, the MDHR granted Plaintiff the right to pursue a private action. (Id. ¶ 36.) Plaintiff thereafter initiated this lawsuit in Minnesota state court on June 9, 2014. (See Notice of Removal [Doc. No. 1], Ex. A.) On June 30, Defendant removed the matter to this Court under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (See id.)

Defendant filed its Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [Doc. No. 6] and a supporting memorandum [Doc. No. 9] on July 25, 2014, seeking to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint. Plaintiff filed an opposition memorandum [Doc. No. 10], along with a declaration [Doc. No. 11] and several exhibits, and Defendant filed a reply memorandum [Doc. No. 13]. Defendant also filed a Motion to Strike [Doc. No. 14] and supporting memorandum [Doc. No. 16], to which Plaintiff responded [Doc. No. 19]. These matters were heard on November 24. Plaintiff then submitted a supplemental affidavit [Doc. No. 25] and exhibits, and Defendant replied [Doc. No. 26].

III. DISCUSSION

A. Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the ...


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